A sin to lie about liking a present?

Here is the Catechism on Lying (my emphasis):

2482 "A lie consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving."281 The Lord denounces lying as the work of the devil: "You are of your father the devil, . . . there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies."282

2483 Lying is the most direct offense against the truth. To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead someone into error. By injuring man’s relation to truth and to his neighbor, a lie offends against the fundamental relation of man and of his word to the Lord.

2484 The gravity of a lie is measured against the nature of the truth it deforms, the circumstances, the intentions of the one who lies, and the harm suffered by its victims. If a lie in itself only constitutes a venial sin, it becomes mortal when it does grave injury to the virtues of justice and charity.

2485 By its very nature, lying is to be condemned. It is a profanation of speech, whereas the purpose of speech is to communicate known truth to others. The deliberate intention of leading a neighbor into error by saying things contrary to the truth constitutes a failure in justice and charity. The culpability is greater when the intention of deceiving entails the risk of deadly consequences for those who are led astray.

2486 Since it violates the virtue of truthfulness, a lie does real violence to another. It affects his ability to know, which is a condition of every judgment and decision. It contains the seed of discord and all consequent evils. Lying is destructive of society; it undermines trust among men and tears apart the fabric of social relationships.

2487 Every offense committed against justice and truth entails the duty of reparation, even if its author has been forgiven. When it is impossible publicly to make reparation for a wrong, it must be made secretly. If someone who has suffered harm cannot be directly compensated, he must be given moral satisfaction in the name of charity. This duty of reparation also concerns offenses against another’s reputation. This reparation, moral and sometimes material, must be evaluated in terms of the extent of the damage inflicted. It obliges in conscience.

Here is Dr. Feser expounding on this, including a discussion of the so-called “murderer at the door” scenario: edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/02/live-action-lying-and-natural-law.html

I don’t think pianistclare was advocating being so fierce in telling one’s own child their artwork is horrible. There are ways around this, if necessary. I must admit, however, it would be the rare parent who is not thrilled by anything their child creates or accomplishes. Even if this is not so, very few parents would think it is doing their child a moral service to be directly honest, as well as toughening them for the future.

Since the individual really doesn’t believe the above bolded statements, wouldn’t they also be lies. I don’t think it is wrong to stretch the truth to save somebody from being hurt.:twocents:

This is actually somewhat close to home in a way. I have a fiance who is an artist, and would like to hang her paintings up in our home after we get married and are living together. The thing is, she loves figure painting, which means a lot of pictures of old, wrinkly naked people. Can you imagine why I would not be crazy about this idea? And they aren’t little paintings either, some of the canvases are as tall as I am. She seems a little put off by the fact that I didn’t want these hanging up in the home but I think she understands. I tend to be a people pleaser and it is difficult for me because I do want to support her in her artwork but our marriage prep counselor said that I need to practice voicing my feelings on things instead of just deferring to her, because that would cause resentment… anyways, I plan to be at home a lot and I have pretty strong opinions on how it is decorated.

Although this doesn’t directly address your question, keep in mind that it’s in poor taste for a gift giver to ask the recipient how they like the gift. The expression of gratitude and appreciation (which should be there regardless of whether or not the person got you something you actually like) is supposed to be enough from the recipient (Miss Manners would say to send a note of thanks ;)).

Sometimes I think we get into the habit of white lies because people ask for information that etiquette dictates they really aren’t supposed to ask for (to avoid hurting their feelings), and we want to maintain the spirit of that and see no quick way to do it besides lying. The most insecure people will badger us until we finally do tell them the truth, and then they’re mad at us for telling it. :shrug:

So, let’s avoid putting a person in a near occasion of sin. If you give a person a present, accept their “Thank you” and don’t go on to say, “No, really, tell me if you actually like it.” :wink:

Lying is deceit.
There’s a reason the prince of lies has that name. It’s not good.
My analogy was meant to convey that lying always hurts someone. Nothing good ever comes out of it. I certainly don’t want my children to lie to me at all. There are never “no big deal lies”. Tell that to the woman whose husband has a drink with someone else after work. There’s all kinds of way that we tell ourselves, that sins are not sin. It’s around us every day. We’re in fact, lying to ourselves. We’re supposed to behave in a way worthy of being sons and daughters of God. God doesn’t lie. It’s a commandment, in fact. You can spare someone’s feelings without lying. Just say “thank-you”.
:rolleyes: Scott has it right.
Thanks Metlzerboy.

The proper thing to say is, “You shouldn’t have!”

You still haven’t addressed the examples I gave.

Fear man? Not wanting to make someone feel bad is a pretty far cry from fearing them.

As to all those mealy-mouthed weasel words that posters have suggested rather than telling a kind fib, people are not stupid. If the giver says, “I hope you like it,” and you reply “The colors are so vibrant,” it’s pretty obvious that you don’t like it since you’re evading the truth of whether or not you do.

“Why yes, Mein Feuhrer, since you ask, I do have two Jews living in my attic and I did see the Rosenfelds in the barn next door.”

Not wanting to make someone feel bad is not the same as lying. You are setting up a false dilemma which wrongly proposes that they only two choices are lie or tell the truth in the most callous way possible.

As to all those mealy-mouthed weasel words that posters have suggested rather than telling a kind fib, people are not stupid. If the giver says, “I hope you like it,” and you reply “The colors are so vibrant,” it’s pretty obvious that you don’t like it since you’re evading the truth of whether or not you do.

I generally don’t hold with being mealy-mouthed, but all this is saying is that sometimes people aren’t very good at thinking on their feet, which is no sin.

“Why yes, Mein Feuhrer, since you ask, I do have two Jews living in my attic and I did see the Rosenfelds in the barn next door.”

Again a false dilemma. Our Lord is plain about lying. Who are you going to believe? Him, or some rigged scenario?

Mothers love everything their children make. It’s a mom thing.
Even if it’s ugly to someone else.
And if you think that people will read between the lines, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Maybe going forward they don’t “spring” their creations on people.

The bottom line is, I disagree.

It’s not a false dilemma. It happened in Nazi Germany and it’s happening today in Iraq.

Well, you can dang well just give me back “Symphony in Puce” if that’s the way you feel about it… :mad:

Absolute truth is not always charitable

2488 The right to the communication of the truth is not unconditional. Everyone must conform his life to the Gospel precept of fraternal love. This requires us in concrete situations to judge whether or not it is appropriate to reveal the truth to someone who asks for it.

2489 Charity and respect for the truth should dictate the response to every request for information or communication. The good and safety of others, respect for privacy, and the common good are sufficient reasons for being silent about what ought not be known or for making use of a discreet language. The duty to avoid scandal often commands strict discretion. No one is bound to reveal the truth to someone who does not have the right to know it.

I have a couple people in my life who are brutally honest. In the beginning, it hurt, but later, I came to actually like that style.

With my mother, if it isn’t something she would use, she would say that, “It’s not something I would use”.

Now, I used to feel hurt by this, but later, I came to like that ,because otherwise, we give someone a gift they hate and will never use, anyway, feel like they need to lie.

My mother would say upfront about Christmas…“Nothing for the walls, no clothes, and no nicknacks”.


I once got my father a scarf and brought it all the way from Mexico. She told me the truth, that my father didn’t wear them. I appreciated this, because we got it to someone who would like, wear, and appreciate it, instead.

I’ve been the type, though, that would say I liked something when I didn’t.

My ex-husband used to collect Beatle’s stuff. He had Beatle’s plates, a blanket, CDs, T-shirts…and also VW stuff. The stuff spanned the house, and each holiday, a relative would get more. He really didn’t want more, so I told him to diplomatically tell his family, since they also spent money on this.

So, one year, he finally got the courage up and did it. He said, “I think I’m good on the bug stuff”, and he said after that, he started getting, “good” presents from them! lol

As I say, I usually have been a coward, myself, fearing for people’s reactions, but I’ve seen where some people in my life are honest and can also make that work.

In fact, with them, if they say they like it, I know they do, that they are not just saying it to spare my feelings, that its honestly how they feel.

I would not offend in this circumstance, I think it would be very unnecessarily rude to do that. I would say “What a wonderful piece of work” and “How kind of you to make this for me” etc. Both of those things may well be truthful.

If the giver asked if I Iiked it, I’d say “What I particularly like is that you spent time on such a personal gift for me.”

Why not just say, it is not my style or what my tastes leans toward. My tastes in art is very specific, and everything in my house shows that. If someone were to give me an abstract, I would say thank you much but it does not appeal to me.

I seriously doubt God would take offense if we told a child that we liked their artwork even if we really thought it was awful.

How about saying the present is “fantastic”. That will likely please the giver and you haven’t lied.

**LokisMom **- I noticed you are are asking a lot of questions on similar moral topics, even when the answer is pretty plain the Catechism. Are you doubting a lot of the moral teachings of the Church? Most of the responses on your threads line up with the Church - are you seeing that? Are you persuaded?

It can be tricky. But lying is not a choice we can morally make. I think “discreet” language takes practice - some people are really good at it.

I understand the letter of the law, and the letter of the law says it’s always sinful to lie.

But I think (and this is just me personally) that God is not bound by the letter of the law. I cannot believe right now, in my heart, that God would be offended and upset at me for telling a friend I liked her present, or telling my 4 year old that Santa is real. This seems absolutely crazy to me that God wold be so legalistic, and at this time, I cannot accept it.

Nonetheless, I appreciate all the responses and will consider everything you all have said.

God bless. :slight_smile:

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